They had said there were to be only a few friends, and I naturally hoped that they would be mutual friends; but no, as my hostess turned around and said, "I suppose you know most of them here," I was obliged to confess that I did not know a face. They were not even the kind of people one sees at parties. Every girl looked as if she studied too hard, and had come there as a part of her other work.
Of course Mrs. Bonte knew I'd like Miss Litchfield, she and her mother had been such dear friends. I did n't see the force of the argument, but I gave her my arm, and we walked up to Miss Litchfield. "She is from Bellesley College," whispered Mrs. Bonte; "she spends her Sundays here with us."
So here was a veritable Bellesleian. Was that the reason she had those dark lines under her eyes? Still that did n't prevent her from looking pretty in her war-paint; and, but for her glasses, she would not look too wise.
We began on the weather, of course; but we soon branched off, and were getting along nicely, when I happened to deny, laughingly, some statement under discussion. "I don't believe in it." said I, "any more than I do in old Cooke's molecular theory."
I never saw such a change as came over her face. First she seemed too much surprised to speak; then she knit her forehead and clinched her little hands.
"If you do not believe in the molecular theory," she began, "how do you account for -" And before I could stop her she went on farther into chemistry than I had ever dreamed into it.
"Pray don't," I laughed, "pray don't! I'll swear eternal fealty to the molecular theory if you command it."
"How inconsistent!" replied she, dryly.
"Hang inconsistency!" said I, "who is consistent at an evening party?"
"So you agree with Mr. Emerson," she said; "you know he advises you to be inconsistent four or five times a day. But for my part," she continued, "I disagree -" And she was as bad on Emerson as she had been on chemistry.
"O, it's all the same in Greek!" I cried, altering the proverb to suit her aesthetic ear.
"Is it really?" said she, in perfect good faith.
"I suppose it is one of those funny alphas privative that don't mean anything sometimes, is n't it? You see," complainingly, "when I'd finished Homer, I could n't read any more Greek on account of my eyes, so I don't know as much as I ought to."
My hair stood on end. I had to reply, and so misinterpreted her. "I wish," said I, "you'd finished off Homer before I began him. I burnt my copy, but to attack the old man himself was more than any but a feminine mind would have dared. Did you hang him in effigy? That might be called going it on a bust!"
She looked disgusted. "Had we not better change the subject?"
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THE CRIME(Editor's Note--This is the first of a series of letters discovered by a graduate student in the stacks of Widener